It’s been a memorable if ridiculously busy summer made special by having the whole family here last month; the 5 kids, partners, 6 grandchildren and even the ex-wife. A lot of wine tasted and drunk with lots of laughter. The weather has been great with the pool at close to 30c after a cool and generally miserable Spring. If you are here in the summer take the kids to Artesina where they have a great railed bob run of over 1km down the mountain and a shorter tube run for little ones. It was a highlight of the family gathering. Live music also featured with Jamiroquai in Barolo and the Buena Vista Social Club at Monforte d’Alba: great atmosphere and so much cheaper than the UK (around €40!)
May as usual provided the opportunity to taste the new (2010) Barbaresco vintage which was almost universally good and prompted some new and return visits to several cantinas. Only 56 this year to try blind and as usual HO, friends and I were in general agreement as to which we preferred. Our favourites over 3 sessions and in no particular order were:
Socré, Manera, San Giuliano, Castello di Verduno.
Ca del Baio, Pelisssero Pasquale, Grimaldi Luigino, Sottimano (Cottà).
Eredi Lodali (Lorens), Negro Angelo, Ugo Lequio, Cascina Morassino.
2010 promises to be yet another excellent vintage and certainly with more potential than 2009 which I won’t be chasing.
Our attention was once again drawn to Socré which we hadn’t visited for a couple of years (prompted by a previous tasting) so we arranged to catch up. They have built a new extension to the cantina which looks on the outside like something out of the “Flintstones” but is very contemporary inside as was Marco Piacentino. The wines were delightful particularly the Cru Roncaglie. We quickly skipped over the light, spicy, easy drinking 2009 base Barbaresco and concentrated on the Cru. The 2009 was much more complex and tannic and absolutely needs more time. Violet hints on the nose and dark cherries, tobacco and leather on the palate with an excellent fruity warmth on the finish. We preferred the richer coloured 2008 with a blackcurrant and roses nose. This was Barbaresco at its best, elegant yet complex with super length. We were also able to taste the 2010 resting in botti grande in advance of bottling about now. We will be back for it before it sells out. They will both join the 2007 which is already in our cellar.
Fattoria San Giuliano also featured well but we had never been although regularly enjoying their wine in local bars and restaurants. The cantina/Agriturismo is in a wonderful location sitting on the hillside below historic Neive. Mariella gave us a tour of their rooms which are beautiful and provide a wonderful holiday destination as they are just a stroll from the village. The pool with views over the vine clad hills adds to the attraction. We skipped the well priced Barbaresco that we drink regularly and as it was a warm afternoon sipped the dry, fresh Roero Arneis 2012 al fresco which certainly benefited from a different view to usual. Melon/fruit salad nose, but not over fruity with a long finish. The late harvested Barbera d’Alba 20011 Fiore di Marcorino (a famous Neive Cru) is aged in a mixture or barriques used 1 to 3 times and had already benefited from the best part of a year in bottle. Strawberries and cream nose, spicy red berries on the palate. Elegant rather than rich full bodied. The Il Milenio 2011 assemblaggio will satisfy both lovers of Barbera and Nebbiolo from which it is made. Usually either the Barbera acidity or tannins of Nebbiolo predominate but in this case it is a perfect balance of both. If you are in the area seek out their wines in the local bars or better still consider them as a base.
It was no surprise to us that Sottimano, Manera, Lodali, Pelissero Pasquale, Ugo Lequio and Ca del Baio were high on our list. The first 3 are regularly on the shopping lists of our friends in the UK when they visit and we should reacquaint ourselves with the latter 3 as they deserve more attention. Visiting Ca del Baio is high on our list as we enjoyed the company of Giulio and his wife Luciana at one of the tasting and heard that they make a Riesling, probably our favourite white grape , and confirmed by daughter Valentina who we bumped into this week.